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Palgrave Macmillan

Women's Life Writing and the Practice of Reading

She Reads to Write Herself

  • Book
  • © 2018
  • Latest edition


  • One of the first collections of criticism of women’s memoirs/auto/biography to be based on the use the life writer made of other writings
  • Comprises an eclectic mix of well-known material, as well as authors and texts that will be new to most readers
  • Opens new streams of investigation and contributes to ongoing scholarly conversation in the field of Life Writing

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Life Writing (PSLW)

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About this book

This collection of essays offers a stimulating insight into the practice of reading and the relationship between reading and writing in women’s life writing texts such as memoirs, autobiographies, diaries, travel logs, and graphic memoirs. It covers a great variety of writers from literary classics such as Virginia Woolf to the authors of slave narratives. Some essays focus on how literary texts help frame a narrative of the self, acting as models and counter models; others insist on the role of literature in resisting imposed gendered and ethnic identities. The essays also show that female writers use reading to deepen their relationship to the rest of the world. While reading is often represented as central to life and aesthetic experience, the collection stresses that there is no single or universal approach to reading in women’s life writing. Taking into account debates about life writing, the collection opens new fields of investigation and fully participates in current scholarly conversations in the field.


  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Narration
  • Literary heritage
  • Memoir

Editors and Affiliations

  • University of Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

    Valérie Baisnée-Keay

  • University of Toulouse II Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

    Corinne Bigot

  • University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Paris, France

    Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni

  • Department of English, Université Paris Nanterre, Nanterre, France

    Claire Bazin

About the editors

Valerie Baisnée-Keay is Senior Lecturer at the University of Paris Sud, France, specialising in contemporary women’s life writing and poetry. Her publications on women’s life writing include Gendered Resistance (1997) on Simone de Beauvoir, Frame Maya Angelou and Marguerite Duras and Through the Long Corridor of Distance (2014) on New Zealand women’s autobiographies.

Corinne Bigot is Senior Lecturer in English and postcolonial literature at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France. She holds a PhD in Canadian Literature, and has published extensively on works by Canadian women writers, notably Alice Munro. She has recently been working on diasporic autofiction and memoirs.

Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni is Senior Lecturer at Paris 8 University, France. Her areas of research include Asian American, Ethnic and Postcolonial Studies. After extensive work on self-writing in the works of Maxine Hong Kingston and Shirley Geok-lin Lim, she is currently engaged in the exploration of contemporary Japanese-American self-referential representations.

Claire Bazin is Professor of Nineteenth Century English Literature and Commonwealth Literature at Paris Nanterre University, France. She is the author of several books on Charlotte and Emily Brontë, and Janet Frame. She is the author of Janet Frame in Writers and Their Work (2011).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Women's Life Writing and the Practice of Reading

  • Book Subtitle: She Reads to Write Herself

  • Editors: Valérie Baisnée-Keay, Corinne Bigot, Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni, Claire Bazin

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in Life Writing

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-75246-4Published: 12 July 2018

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-09181-1Published: 02 February 2019

  • Series ISSN: 2730-9185

  • Series E-ISSN: 2730-9193

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVIII, 339

  • Number of Illustrations: 10 b/w illustrations

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